A FASCINATING insight into how and why Irish buyers are turning from used imports to home stock can be revealed today.
It comes in a tide of emails to Independent Motors following last week's revelation of a big fall-off in used-import purchases.
That prompted a wave of correspondence from buyers detailing how and why they'd shopped Irish rather than UK this time around.
And Personal Contract Plans (PCPs) have emerged as a core reason for swaying their decisions.
Many said they ended up buying a new car rather than a used import because of the low-interest rates on PCPs and lease deals.
They were one of three major reasons for the big switch. The other two are the sterling exchange rate and difficulty with getting cars fixed if something goes wrong.
Most buyers, and former owners of imports, said the APR on finance deals made all the difference when it came to deciding where to buy.
Some said they felt they would have been 'mad' to have passed up what was offered.
The insights spell good news for the home Irish market but there is still a need for imports because of the shortage of good used cars in the three-to-five year age bracket.
There is the danger that prices for good, clean, low-mileage cars will rise to such an extent on the home market that buying more imports will be as attractive as before. It is a question of balance.
And we are still buying thousands of imports so it is not like everything has come to a complete halt. But more people are getting more for their euro at home and that has sparked a sea-change.
Here are just a couple of typical examples and experiences of people buying at home.
Paul from Monaghan told us: "I just yesterday bought an Audi A8 (2011) as it represented the best value by quite a margin over importing a similar car.
"Obviously the exchange rate was a big factor but so was the lack of an actual warranty as unless the engine blew up you were not going to drive to London for a small technical problem etc.
"Then there was the car finance option which is not available if you buy outside the state as you need a VAT invoice from a garage here."
It was also brought to our attention that there can be a wide range of VRT valuations on a used import.
Another owner, who has had several imports over the years, highlighted the lease deal he got as the main reason for buying at home this time.
Last week he traded in his imported BMW for a new car. He says: "Why? Because the Irish motor industry have found a way to combat the used UK market - the PCP deal." He bought a new SEAT Leon ST FR 184, with a few extras added in.
"The garage gave me a trade-in price that matched anything I would have sold the BMW for on the second-hand market myself, and with the exchange rate adding 30pc to every £1 sterling that I spend on a car, the value is not there any more."
Others said dealers here are now far more proactive in sorting out finance for them and are prepared to strike deals that make the effort of importing seem like an unnecessary exertion.